Outlines 2017 Review

Outlines Festival was back for a second time, and this time it was bigger & better than ever, with the festival running over two days with higher profile acts headlining, but still focusing on upcoming new talent. Outlines took place across several iconic Sheffield venues, including The Leadmill, Plug and The Harley on 3rd and 4th March.

Friday

Opening the festival in Plug’s room 2 were local Sheffield band The Seamonsters.

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Playing a short, tight set which included their recently announced debut single ‘Lost & Found’, The Seamonsters again proved themselves to be a great live act – a great opener to the weekend.

 

Over to the Leadmill next, with Dead Slow Hoot being the first act there I catch.

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I hadn’t heard anything by Dead Slow Hoot before Outlines, but their Interpol like dark indie rock was very nice indeed,  with the crowd increasing in size throughout their set.

Up next were The Crookes.

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Unsurprisingly drawing one of the liveliest crowds of the weekend, Sheffield favourites The Crookes crammed as much as they could into their 45 minute slot – as always it was full of energy, and the Croftsy fan club was out in full force.

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Closing the first night at the Leadmill were Slow Club.

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Another home-grown Sheffield act at Outlines, Slow Club started their set with ‘Ancient Rolling Sea’ from their latest album ‘One Day All Of This Won’t Matter Anymore’ with the highlight of their set for me was ‘In Waves’ from the same album.

Saturday

Starting at Plug again, the first act I saw on Saturday was singer-songwriter Sophie Longshaw, whose thoughtful acoustic tracks had the larger room in Plug captured. Nice cover of Rihanna’s ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ thrown in for good measure too.

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After Sophie, it was across to Plug Room 2 for Graceland, who were a complete turn around in pace from the last act, and another new discovery for me at Outlines. Great punchy tracks that the crowd quickly warmed to.

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The next act I saw was Clean Cut Kid.

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Clean Cut Kid drew a big crowd to the Plug considering they were on at 4 in the afternoon, and once they started playing it was clear to see why. With crowd pleasing indie rock tracks like ‘We Used To Be In Love’ and ‘Vitamin C’ filling their set, you could tell the band love doing what they do, and that is a great thing to watch.

Law Holt was next up, again showcasing the diversity of the Outlines lineup.

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I didn’t know what to expect from Law Holt at all, when she first appeared on stage with her two backing singers it was almost silent in the room, but she soon brought the crowd around with upbeat, quirky tracks like ‘Love Drive Through.

After Law Holt, Sheffield MC Matic Mouth took to the stage.

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Bringing a mixture of upbeat tracks about after-parties and more autobiographical cuts, Matic Mouth delivered a really fun set. After his performance, Nadia Rose was scheduled to play but had to pull out due to transport issues. Fair play to Mr.Mouth for stepping in and doing an extra short set to keep the crowd occupied in the gap.

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Lady Leshurr was next up, bringing the most energetic performance of the weekend. She really, really got the crowd going – getting the Plug to do the mannequin challenge for one, while still nailing her bars throughout.

After that, it was over to the Leadmill for the final 2 acts of the weekend.

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Shock Machine were the first of the two acts, and they really surprised me with just how good they were. I hadn’t heard any of their material beforehand, but knew it was James from Klaxons, so I had hopes they would be at least interesting. They surpassed that, and put on a great show, with a genuinely enthusiastic and engaging frontman in James.

The final act of the weekend for me was Jagwar Ma.

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I am a big fan of Jagwar Ma, and was really excited to see them live, especially in The Leadmill. Mid set, Jono Ma said he was very happy to have gotten such a warm reception, and that reception was well deserved. Songs mixing into one another meaning there was little time for chat from the band, but that was not really a negative in this case as the Australian trio were on top form, with tracks from their debut like ‘Come Save Me’ and ‘What Love’ merging brilliantly with newer cuts like ‘O B 1’ and ‘Ordinary.’

Outlines festival is a great way to discover new music and see some top well-established acts, in great independent venues.  I am already looking forward to the next one, and you can get tickets now for only £10 if you are quick.

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Best acts: Jagwar Ma, The Crookes, Lady Leshurr.

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Outlines Festival add over 40 new acts to 2017 bill!

 

The second ever Outlines Festival have added more acts to its already impressive lineup, with the likes of Flamingods and Our Girl playing alongside already announced Jagwar Ma, Lady Leshurr, Slow Club and The Crookes.

The lineup also includes MOBO winner Nadia Rose, Hookworms and local talent including Trash and The Seamonsters.

The festival takes place in several venues across Sheffield including The Leadmill, Plug and Queens Social Club on 3rd and 4th March, with weekend tickets being available now for £20 here.

The Top 10 Albums of 2016.

Here are my top 10 albums of 2016. It was very hard to narrow it down to just 10, with albums like Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool and Spring King’s debut narrowly missing out.


#10 – Amber Arcades: Fading Lines

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Amber Arcades’ debut album is full of beautifully crafted, and beautifully sung songs that demand your attention without being too overpowering.

‘Right Now’ is my favourite track on the album, with the western-y guitar riff throughout and very catchy chorus making for a v sweet cut indeed.

 

#9 – Teleman: Brilliant Sanity

Teleman’s second album improved on everything that their debut, Breakfast, did. Opening track and lead single ‘ Dusseldorf’ is a brilliant track, with its twinkling synth backing and simple but effective chorus, it sets the rest of the album up nicely, and what am album it is.

 

#8 – Two Door Cinema Club: Gameshow

Coming back from a break of 4 years without an album, Two Door Cinema Club returned with a focused, disco-y album full of instantly catchy tracks.

Lead single and opening track on the album ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’ was made pretty much FIFA ready with the track easily being in the running for catchiest song of the year. However, that title could also be taken by a few other tracks off this album, ‘Ordinary’ and ‘Bad Decisions’ to name a few.

Mid-album tracks like ‘Lavender’ and ‘Fever’ are not as instant as the big hitting singles, but they are by no means filler, with ‘Invincible’ sounding like the best ‘School dance at the end of a teen movie’ song you have ever heard.

 

#7 – Blossoms: Blossoms

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You can say what you want about Blossoms, but you can’t deny that they can write a bloody good pop song. In fact, i’d say about 12 of them.

Each track on this album is brilliantly produced by the Coral’s James Skelly, with his production only adding to the already brilliant songs penned by Ogden and co.

The collection of tracks sounds more like a greatest hits collection than a fairly new band’s debut album, with ‘Charlemange’, ‘At Most A Kiss’ and ‘Getaway’ being the LP’s opening three tracks this is an incredibly strong first try.

 

#6 – Skepta: Konnichiwa

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Grime has seen the biggest surge in popularity this year, with Skepta’s record label Boy Better Know playing main stage slots at Reading & Leeds festivals and headlining Wireless.

From ‘Lyrics’ featuring Novelist, to ‘Numbers’ with Pharrell, Skepta is still the main attraction on each of the tracks even with such impressive features.

‘That’s Not Me’ featuring Skep’s brother Jme is the highlight of this album for me, having seen the crowd’s reaction to it and other tracks off the album first hand at Leeds festival this year really shows how much of an impact Skepta, and grime as a whole has had this year.

This album won the mercury prize this year and it is very easy to see why. Each and every track on this album is an example of why Skepta is the very best around at what he does.

 

#5 – Rihanna: Anti

From the opening track ‘Consideration’, you can tell that this is going to be a different kind of Rihanna album than we are used to, and it is.

The album includes a cover of Tame Impala’s ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’, which when I first heard news of I was worried but she makes it sound like the song was written for her. (It could be just that the song is just so well written in the first place but idk).

More subdued than her previous efforts this is, in my opinion, her best album to date. ‘Desperado’ sounds like it is right out of a dramatic movie trailer in the best possible way, but at the same time it is not over-produced; the same goes for the whole album.

 

#4 – Kanye West: The Life Of Pablo

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The Life Of Pablo is Kanye West’s seventh full length album, which was released originally solely through the streaming service Tidal, eventually getting a general digital release after he was done making changes.

In the run up to the album being released he teased that it was going to be a gospel album, with many people laughing him off, but when the first track ‘Ultralight Beam’ kicks in you can see he definitely wasn’t lying, with the gospel feel strongly continuing in tracks like ‘Low Lights’.

The album is like a scrapbook of Kanye’s ideas, with the album’s tracks flowing into one another with each sample being perfectly placed, at one point he uses Desiigner’s ‘Panda’ in the track ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1’ that massively improves upon the original. ‘No More Parties In LA’ uses a variety of samples to create Kanye’s own custom funk backdrop to the Kendrick Lamar featuring track.

I feel like the album is at its best when at its most mellow however, with ‘Real Friends’ showing Kanye really opening up over a really thought-provoking, subdued beat. “When was the last time I remembered a birthday” he asks, going on to talk about how he is sick of people only wanting him when they want something.

 

 #3 – A Tribe Called Quest:  We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

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The (sadly) final A Tribe Called Quest album was released in November and it quickly shot up this list as well as many others, with the album topping the Billboard 200 in America.

Sampling from sources like Gene Wilder in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory may seem strange but it fits in perfectly on opener ‘The Space Program’, as does everything else on the record.

The album boasts features from Kanye, Kendrick, Jack White, Busta Rhymes and Elton John, and features the late Phife Dawg, as the album began recording in 2015 before he passed away.

The album easily manages to carry their sound into 2016 without it even slightly sounding like a cash-in on their legacy; perhaps they were that far ahead of their time back when they were first starting out that we’ve finally caught up with them.

#2 – The Crookes: Lucky Ones

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The Crookes made it clear they mean business on this album. From the slow, scene setting opening track ‘Brand New Start’ to the conclusion with a sequel to that track, Lucky Ones is a near perfect pop album.

‘The World Is Waiting’ kicks the album off proper, with the chorus being one of, if not the catchiest of the year. (with a good oooh ooh ee oooo bit to get stuck in your head for weeks on end.)

Lead single ‘I Wanna Waste My Time On You’ is again, annoyingly catchy, but also lyrically impressive, with the chorus invoking pictures of fun times to be had in the future with someone you perhaps haven’t even met yet.

Title track ‘The Lucky Ones’ has one of the simplest synth melody throughout it, but the more you listen to it, the more complex you realise the track is; the layers of echoes and synth effects on the track mean that the chorus of the song is almost hazy. I like it.

‘Real Life’ really shows great lyrical skill, with ‘Real life sucks me dry
I wanna sleep all through the day, this world will take the colour from your eyes’ being one of those phrases that seem very personal but also easily relate out to a lot of people.

Recent single from the album ‘Roman Candle’ is my favourite from the album; the swirling synths and dreamy chorus make for another brilliant track, with again the lyrics shining through ‘Just be yourself, I’m not an easy thing to be’ really resonating with me.

Often a reprise can be cheesy or feel tacked on to the end of an album to fill time, but B.N.S pt. II really does bring the album to a beautiful close.

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This is the english version of the debut album from the French singer, songwriter and producer Heloise Letissier under the stage name Christine and The Queens. Having already made it big in her home country, 2016 was the year that her appeal rightly spread across the channel.

The album on the surface can be seen as simply brilliant pop music, with all the songs having great hooks and choruses (just try and get Tilted out of your head after hearing a few seconds of it) throughout. The real brilliance in this album is when you realise its complexity.

From the first track, ‘iT’, the album begins to explore topics like gender and sexuality, with lyrics like “She wants to be a man, but she lies, she wants to be born again” and “there’s nothing you can do to make me change my mind.” This is explored throughout the album, with ‘Science Fiction’ stating that “In this sea of eyes, every move’s a coup” proving that this is an artist not afraid to be themselves, or to push boundaries.

‘Paradis Perdus’ is an interpolation of Kanye West’s ‘Heartless’ and French Singer-Songwriter Christophe’s 1973 song ‘Les paradis perdus’. Despite Letissier and West’s styles being completely different, she has arranged this in such a way that it works perfectly.

Hopefully this is the start of a long and brilliant career for Christine, but even if not, this album is something to be more than proud of.

 


Below is a playlist with some of my top picks from the albums;

The 16 Best Music Videos of 2016

2016 has been a great year for music videos; below is a list of the best 16 from throughout the year (in alphabetical order.)

Amber Arcades: Turning Light

Directed by Jeroen van der Poel

Christine & The Queens: Saint Claude

Directed by JACK

Chvrches: Clearest Blue

Directed by Warren Fu

Coldplay: Up & Up

Directed by: Vania Heymann and Gal Muggia

 

 

Courtney Barnett: Elevator Operator

Directed by: Sunny Leunig

The Crookes: Roman Candle

Directed by: Bertie Gilbert

 

DJ Shadow ft. Run The Jewels: Nobody Speak

Directed by Sam Pilling

 

 

The Kills: Doing It To Death

Directed by Wendy Morgan 

 

 

The Last Shadow Puppets: Aviation

 

Directed by Saam Farahmand

 

 

Massive Attack: Voodoo In My Blood ft. Young Fathers

Directed by Ringan Ledwidge

 

Miike Snow: Genghis Khan 

Directed by Ninian Goff

 

 

Radiohead: Burn The Witch

Directed by Chris Hopewell

 

 

Teleman: Tangerine

Directed by Andrew West 

 

 

 

 

The Crookes unveil Bertie Gilbert directed video for ‘Roman Candle’

The Crookes have released their music video for the latest single from their album ‘Lucky Ones’, Roman Candle. The video is directed by YouTube filmmaker Bertie Gilbert, who was ‘aiming for an 80’s vibe’ with the music video, which I feel he got pretty spot on.

You can watch the video below:

You can see Bertie’s other films here, on his YouTube channel.

The Crookes are doing a Christmas tour, with dates in Nottingham, Bristol, London, Newcastle, Leeds and Sheffield. Go to http://thecrookes.co.uk/tour-dates/ for more info.

Cover it Up

I asked artists what their favourite cover version was and why:

Frank Turner: 

My favourite cover version is probably Joe Cocker’s version of “A Little Help From My Friends”. It’s the definitive version of the song, to me; it’s certainly a totally different beast to the original. And it’s arguably Cockers’ finest performance too.


Doe: 

Dean: LVL UP’s cover of Somebody Kill Me ‘cause they slay and Return to Love doesn’t sound like anything I’ve heard before.

Jake: Probably Weezer’s cover of Velouria.


Reverend and The Makers: 

Hendrix covering Dylan. If ya gonna do a cover it has to be a total reinvention really or it’s cheating. Hendrix doused Dylan’s original in petrol and set it alight. Stone wall classic.


Faris Badwan

Jeff Buckley – Lilac Wine

 

His voice man – It’s totally incredible. He has such emotional depth and tone to his voice. A technically brilliant singet and a great update on the 50’s song. Anyway I love that album and it’s a tragedy that he died so soon.

Big Black – The Model

Big Black had a real pop sensibility behind the brutal noise and the model was a fitting choice of song to cover.. the dalek-like vocal delivery is maybe more overtly sarcastic than the original and the guitar is, as ever, fucking great.

 The Slits – Heard It Through The Grapevine

The Slits were rooted more in reggae than soul but in this version they really sound like they belong.. they totally transformed it into a spiky post-funk classic and I always play it out when I DJ. There are covers that maintain the feeling of the original and hit the listener in a similar way, and that’s totally cool – but then there are ones that “rip it up and start again.


The Crookes (George):

Caitlin Rose – Pink Rabbits by The National. She has such a great voice and I love the arrangement. She takes a very brooding, distant sounding song and turns it into a very warm, intimate thing.

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Plus, she’s on Domino, the same as Arctic Monkeys, and a couple of years ago did a 7″ with covers of Piledriver Waltz and Love is a Laserquest which are both amazing and well worth checking out if you haven’t heard them.


Penthouse (Ben): 

My favourite cover song would have to be Seahaven’s cover of ‘Bad Diary Days’ by Pedro the Lion. The cover is only on youtube but it is worth the watch as the scenery, encompassing the band, really adds to the dreary/emotional feel of the song. The cover isn’t too far off from the original in terms of dynamics but Kyle Soto’s strained vocals really add a nice twist to the song. The quiet but constant bassline fits so well, complimenting the gentle acoustic guitar. Although filmed outside with the sound of raindrops in the background, the tone of the bass and guitar are so warm sounding and really just took me somewhere else when I first heard it. The drums are so in time and appropriate for the song that they sound almost sampled…which I absolutely love. Maybe I’m biased because I love Seahaven anyway, but this cover is something special and sounds like it was meant for the band to cover. The best song/video for a rainy day.



Globelamp: 

Cat Power – Wonderwall

It was the first cover of a song that i heard that made me realize you could put your own unique touch on someone else’s song.

Adam Buxton:

It’s This.

Tramlines 2016 – Saturday Review

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Tramlines 2016 was bigger and better than ever, with one of the most diverse line-ups of any festival in the UK, and with a bigger main stage location for this year, this was not one to miss.

The first act of the day I went to see were Living Body, in the beautiful setting of the Folk Forest stage situated in Endcliffe Park. This was Living Body’s first ever live show, and once they got set up you’d never have guessed. With members of Vessels and Sleater-Kinney joining frontman Jeff T. Smith, this was a great new discovery, and a perfect way to kick off the festival.

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Living Body on the Folk Festival Stage
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Little Comets on Main Stage

Over to the main stage next for Teeside favourites Little Comets. Their upbeat indie anthems drew a big crowd for 3 in the afternoon, providing a perfect summery soundtrack to what was turning out to be a really sunny day. Their track ‘Dancing Song’ lived up to it’s name, getting the whole Ponderosa moving.

Next I stumbled upon Sly & The Family Drone at the City Hall’s Ballroom stage. Perhaps the most interesting act of the day, they played their set of unique heavy dance music in the middle of the ballroom floor to a small, but completely mesmerised crowd.

Daniel Whitehouse at the Cathedral was another unexpected find, with his great, melancholic acoustic set a nice fit for the amazing setting of the Cathedral.

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Daniel Whitehouse in Sheffield Cathedral

Kate Jackson, ex-Frontwoman of the Long Blondes, was next up at the O2 Academy, who played a solid set of songs from her latest album British Home Movies, as well as a few new tracks.

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Kate Jackson at O2 Academy Sheffield

Following on from Kate were Sheffield favourites The Crookes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the crowd for them was one of the liveliest of the event. Blasting through songs from their new album Lucky Ones as well as a selection of tracks from their earlier albums, this was a real local crowd pleasing set, with closer Afterglow really getting the Academy shifting.8db16a7f2f

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The Crookes at O2 Academy Sheffield

The final act of the day for me were Mystery Jets. Kicking things off with Telomere, the first track off their latest album Curve Of The Earth, the band were incredibly tight throughout the set. Bubblegum, another track and lead single from the album was another set highlight, and earlier hit Two Doors Down provided another big moment towards the end.

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Tramlines is great for the city of Sheffield, and the venues within it. All of the venues that the festival utilised and created had a real bustling atmosphere to them, and almost all of the fringe venues were too busy to get in, and the lineup is one of the most diverse of any UK festival I have seen this year.

Earlybird tickets for next years festival are available now at only £25, and if the lineup is as half as good as this years’ that is a real bargain.

5/5

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